On Wednesday, The Dallas Mavericks and Donnie Nelson have mutually agreed to part ways. The Mavericks will now turn their attention to hiring a new general manager to help the team build around Luka Doncic.
Nelson, came to Dallas on January 2nd, 1998 and recently just completed his 24th season with the Mavericks franchise.
During his tenure, the Mavericks have made the playoffs in 17 of the last 21 seasons, been to Western Conference Finals three times, advanced to the NBA Finals twice, captured three division titles (2007, 2010 and 2021) and won their first championship in 2011. Since Nelson became the GM of the Mavericks, the Mavericks won 58% of their games (1,087 of 1,873) with three 60+ win seasons, including a franchise record of 67 wins, which is tied for sixth-best record in NBA history.
This news came to a total surprise among the MFFL’S (Mavs Fan For Life) as many expected Donnie Nelson would stick around for another season or two. Of course, this news was followed by a news article that was published by Tim Cato of “The Athletic” in which he published an article stating that there’s some tension in the Mavericks front office. Owner, Mark Cuban quickly tried to dismiss the article calling it “Total Bullsh**” on Twitter, but unfortunately it didn’t work as parting ways with Donnie Nelson proves that there’s actual tension in the front office.
There are going to be people who are happy to see the Mavericks make SOME type of change in regards to their front office as many thought the Mavericks were going nowhere and wasn’t improving enough. Let’s not forget what Donnie Nelson has done for the Mavericks franchise. Here’s some of the notorious moves that Donnie Nelson has made during his tenure as the Mavericks General Manager.
Acquired Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash: This is one of the moves that Donnie Nelson made that stands out the most. In 1998, the Mavericks drafted, the late, Robert Traylor with the sixth overall pick in the NBA draft. The Milwaukee Bucks selected Dirk Nowitzki with the ninth overall pick and Pat Garrity with the nineteenth overall pick. The Mavericks then traded Traylor to the Bucks for Nowitzki and Garrity. The Mavericks then turned around and traded Garrity to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash. Without Donnie Nelson making this move, there would’ve been no Dirk Nowitzki and probably no championship. Who knows where the Mavericks still would’ve been if Nelson didn’t make this trade.
Hired Rick Carlisle: In 2008, the Mavericks parted ways with Avery Johnson after three-plus seasons as the head coach of the Mavericks. Looking for a head coach, Donnie Nelson went and hired Rick Carlisle to be the next head coach and the Mavericks’ ninth in franchise history, after Carlisle took the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals. Looking back at it now, you can say that Donnie Nelson made the right hire for this Mavericks franchise. Carlisle just finished his 13th season as the Mavericks head coach and is the third-longest tenured coach in the NBA behind only Greg Popovich and Erik Spoelstra. He became the winningest coach in Mavericks franchise history after securing his 340th career victory on November 1st, 2015 by beating the Los Angeles Lakers 103-93. Carlisle has led the Mavericks to the playoffs in 14 of 19 seasons as the Mavericks head coach, resulting in winning the first ever championship in franchise history in 2011. None of this success would’ve happened if Donnie Nelson didn’t hire Rick Carlisle to be the Mavericks head coach.
Built the Championship Roster: Leading up to 2011, the Mavericks made a number of moves under Donnie Nelson, which resulted in bringing Tyson Chandler, Ian Mahinmi, Brian Cardinal, Peja Stojakovic, Shawn Marion, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson, etc that played a tremendous part into helping the Mavericks capture their first championship in franchise history. Without Donnie Nelson making those moves, there’s no way the Mavericks would’ve won the championship in 2011.
Luka Doncic-Trae Young Trade: In 2018, the Mavericks drafted Trae Young with the fifth overall pick and traded his draft rights to the Atlanta Hawks for the third overall pick, which resulted in acquiring Luka Doncic’s draft rights. This trade has become notorious by being the most “well balanced” trade in NBA history as the trade helped both franchises fairy equally. Donnie Nelson was the one that helped the Mavericks get Luka Doncic to Dallas and without him making the trade, the Mavericks probably would be stuck in the lottery for many years. Now, the Mavericks have found their franchise player, after Dirk Nowitzki retired, and they can start contending for championships in the upcoming seasons. Luka Doncic has flourished in the league through his first three seasons and the Mavericks future looks way better now than if they didn’t make this trade.
With the Mavericks going in a different direction with their General Manager, Donnie Nelson deserves our utmost Thank You for what he has done for the franchise. Without him, there’s no way the Mavericks would be where they are now. As the famous saying goes “All good things must come to an end” and both the Mavericks and Donnie Nelson have reached that point. We wish Donnie the best in his next chapter, whatever it may be. He leaves Dallas by leaving his mark in this franchise.
Thank You for everything Donnie!
Follow me on Twitter @TheIsiahNunez for more updates on the Dallas Mavericks offseason.